Golden Bears Return To Dual-Match Play On The Road

March 6, 2008


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at No. 26 Arizona State

Fri. Mar. 7 | 1:30 p.m.
Whiteman Tennis Center
Tempe, Ariz.

at No. 36 Arizona
Sat. Mar. 8 | 1 p.m.
LaNelle Robson Tennis Center
Tucson, Ariz.

* Times local to match

BEAR NOTES: The No. 38 California men's tennis team (4-4) returns to dual-match action this week as it travels to the Grand Canyon State to face No. 26 Arizona State (7-0) and No. 36 Arizona (10-2). The Golden Bears have not faced an opponent in a dual match since they fell to rival Stanford on Feb. 26. Cal will get a shot at the Sun Devils first, playing a 1:30 p.m. Friday match at Whiteman Tennis Center in Tempe, Ariz. The Bears will then travel the interstate to Tucson to meet the Wildcats at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center in a 1 p.m. match on Saturday. Neither match will count towards Pac-10 Conference standings as the teams will meet once more in Berkeley later this year. Please check for updates and information.

LAST WEEK: The Golden Bears broke off into doubles teams to participate in the 2008 USTA Pacific Coast Men's Doubles Championship hosted by the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club in La Jolla, Calif. The Golden Bears faced some of the top collegiate men's doubles players from Rice, USC, Pepperdine, UCLA, Stanford, Fresno State, San Diego State, UC San Diego and Notre Dame. Cal came away with an 8-7 weekend record as the duo of freshman Jonathan Dahan and sophomore Kallim Stewart advanced to the round of 16 before being defeated by Brian Brogan and Chris Harradine. Two other Bear pairs advanced to the round of 32 along with Dahan and Stewart but were ousted from tournament play there. The most successful Cal duo of junior Geoff Chizever and freshman Pedro Zerbini was knocked out by the second-seeded team of Ralph Knupfer and Cristoph Muller. The eight seed took out senior Ken Nakahara and freshman Zach Gilbert in a 6-4, 7-5 finish. After falling in the round of 64, senior Pierre Mouillon and junior Eoin Heavey won two matches in the consolation bracket to earn a berth in the consolation semifinal but were defeated there in a 6-3, 6-4 loss at the hands of Vishnu Rajam and Hoony Shin.

HOLDING COURT - NO. 26 ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils have not lost a dual match this season, holders of a perfect 7-0 record. Its unblemished record has given Arizona State rise in the rankings, now up to No. 26 entering the weekend. The Devils are at a 45-14 disadvantage to the Bears in the all-time series record but won the most recent meeting between the two teams, taking a 4-3 victory last year in Tempe, Ariz. The Sun Devils are led by sophomore Andres Arango who's 7-3 singles record has netted him the No. 49 singles ranking in the most recent ITA poll. ASU duo Matt Brooklyn and TJ Bellama are the No. 31-ranked doubles team and have a 7-3 record when on the court together.

HOLDING COURT - NO. 36 ARIZONA: The Wildcats come into the weekend as the first Pac-10 Conference men's tennis team to reach 10 wins this season. Sitting at 10-2, the Cats only two losses have come at the hands of highly-ranked opponents USC and Rice. The Bears are 42-15 all-time against the Wildcats and won both meetings last year. Arizona is led by senior Claudio Christen who holds the No. 108 ranking among singles players and has a 13-7 record in singles play. Christen is also one part of the No. 48 ranked doubles team when he teams with Jay Goldman. Christen is 16-4 in doubles play as one of the Wildcats' most successful doubles players.

HEAD COACH Peter Wright: Considered one of the best teachers and tacticians in men's collegiate tennis, Peter Wright's coaching talent has not gone unnoticed. Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2001 and in 1997, he received his first coaching award in 1994 when he was named Wilson/ITA Regional Coach of the Year for guiding the Bears back to postseason play after Cal had missed the Big Dance the previous two seasons. Wright has compiled a 194-141 (.579) career record during his tenure in Berkeley. Last season, with a 14-10 overall record (4-3 Pac-10, tied for third), the Bears made their eighth consecutive postseason appearance in the NCAA Tournament, 13th of the 14 years under Wright's guidance. A four-year letterman during his collegiate career at Cal, Wright worked his way to the No. 1 singles and doubles positions in the Bears lineup before joining the men's professional tour in 1986.

BEARS IN THE RANKS: The Bears opened the season ranked No. 39 in the ITA NCAA Division I Men's Collegiate Tennis rankings but moved up to No. 26 after upsetting No. 11 Oklahoma State on the road in Tulsa, Okla. Hovering in the high 20's, Cal currently holds the No. 38 ranking in the nation. The Bears finished 2007 with the No. 42 ranking but have held the No. 2 ranking at the end of the season on four occasions, and the No. 3 spot on three occasions. Most recently, under the direction of head coach Peter Wright, the Bears were No. 4 to close the 2003 season after advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinal and compiling a 21-5 overall record. Cal won the National Championship in 1925 with a 4-1 record.

IMPORT MODEL: Senior captain Ken Nakahara leads by example and looks to have his Golden Bears ready for matches by firing them up with his intensity and passion for the sport. He put up 10 wins in fall individual tournaments including earning the Blue Flight title at the Chandler Cup. The senior also teamed with freshman Zach Gilbert to advance to the doubles final at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic.

DON'T YAWN ON MOUILLON: Senior Pierre Mouillon was named the 2007 ITA West Region Player to Watch at the end of the 2006-07 season. Coming into the dual match play, Mouillon is ready to prove what made him all the rage last season, earning him a No. 14 preseason ranking in the fall.

NO HELMET NECESSARY: Junior Geoff Chizever is one-half of the Bears' most formidable doubles team no matter the partner. Chizever didn't always have a racquet in his hand. He was a record-setting quarterback for Viewpoint High School in Calabasas, Calif., where he earned Liberty League MVP honors for four consecutive years (2001-04). His record-setting ways has his name at the top of the list in his former league for most touchdowns, most completions, most yards gained and best competition percentage for a career. On the court, Chizever teamed with freshman Pedro Zerbini this fall to top all Cal duos with a 10-2 record, winning the Chandler Cup doubles title and advancing to the doubles semifinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. To date, Chizever is 14-7 in doubles matches, 4-3 in dual match doubles play.

HEAVEY LIFTING: Junior Eoin Heavey looks to shoulder a much larger load this season as he will play predominantly from court No. 2 in singles but will also be asked to contribute his talents in doubles. Already, Heavey has proven his mettle, clinching the upset win for the Bears against No. 11 Oklahoma State on the road with a 6 -3, 4-6, 7-5 victory over No. 77 Dmytro Petrov on Jan. 20.

BO KNOWS: Freshman Bozhidar Katsarov won more singles matches than any Bear in fall tournaments. His 13-4 mark in individual tournament play earned him singles titles at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic and the Chandler Cup. His play at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship helped him advance to the singles semifinal. In dual matches, Katsarov has contributed to the Bears' success with wins on courts four and five in dual play and has already upped his total singles wins to 18 as a freshman.

IT'S IN THE BLOOD: Freshman Zach Gilbert is the son of former tennis pro, television commentator and current tennis coach Brad Gilbert. The elder Gilbert won 20 singles titles as a pro and reached a world ranking of No. 4 in 1990. As a coach, Gilbert has tutored many internationally renowned stars including Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.

FALL 2007 TOURNAMENTS: The Golden Bears emerged from the fall tournament season with a 64-46 record in singles matches, and notched 25 wins in doubles play. In solo competition, freshman Bozhidar Katsarov led all Bears with 13 wins and only four losses on his way to claiming titles at the 2007 Fresno State Bulldog Classic and at the Cal Chandler Cup. Katsarov's four consecutive victories in Seattle also helped him to advance to the singles quarterfinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championships. Senior captain Ken Nakahara had 10 wins including five-straight to capture the Blue Flight title at the Chandler Cup. Nakahara was also able to advance to the round of 32 at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. In doubles play, the duo of junior Geoff Chizever and freshman Pedro Zerbini experienced the most success, advancing to the semifinal at the 2007 Bulldog Classic before getting to the quarterfinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. The pair won the Chandler Cup doubles title with four strong wins to close out the fall season.

2006-07 SEASON RECAP: The Golden Bears completed the 2007 dual campaign with a 14-10 overall record and went 4-3 in Pac-10 Conference play to finish in a tie for third place and a No. 42 ITA national ranking. Cal went to the NCAA Championship Tournament for the eighth consecutive year, tying a school record and faced No. 26 Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla. in the first round. The Sooners edged the Bears in a 4-3 win to end Cal's season. Junior Pierre Mouillon was the Pac-10's Player of the Week for the week of Mar. 19 and received All-Pac-10 Conference First Team honors. Mouillon was also named the ITA West Region's Player to Watch at season's end. Senior Tyler Browne was an All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention and fellow seniors John Petit and Daniel Sebescen made the 2007 Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team.

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